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Reforestation and Tree-Planting Programs

Planting trees is one of the best things we can do to protect the environment and beautify our communities and rural areas. Trees clean the air and water, capture carbon from the atmosphere, reduce erosion, provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, increase property values and much more.

Reforestation is a practice in forestry used to re-establish forest cover. In the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS), reforestation refers to planting approximately 200 trees per acre spaced 15 feet apart. Trees are typically two- to five-gallon containerized trees when planted. The understory of the reforestation, typically grass, is no longer maintained on a regular mowing schedule.

Free Tree-Planting Programs

There are no costs to homeowners or landowners for native trees planted through the County's tree-planting programs. The minimum planting area is one-tenth of an acre or more. Our crew can plant trees on your land, or if you prefer to do it yourself, you can record the tree locations on the Environmental Reporter map

Turf to Trees—One Acre or More

Converting lawn to forest reduces the cost of mowing and adds value to a property. The Turf to Trees program (PDF) includes rural reforestations of one acre or larger. The entire acre should be open space (lawn or grass) away from utility easements, Forest Conservation Easements, septic and septic reserves. Approximately 200 trees are planted per acre spaced 15 feet apart. Trees are planted in staggered rows for ease of seasonal mowing. Trees are equipped with stakes and shelters to protect them from deer and pest damage.

Trees are maintained by County-selected contractors for an initial three years of maintenance. Maintenance includes seasonal mowing, vine and invasive species suppression, and stake and shelter upkeep. Maintenance may also include watering during times of heavy drought and the use of pesticides or herbicides. To ensure long-term survival, the County will monitor and may conduct maintenance and replacement plantings, as needed, after the contractor maintenance period.

Learn more about the process and how to apply.

Backyard Trees—One-Tenth of an Acre or More

Backyard Trees is a modified version of our Turf to Trees program for County residents who do not have an acre or more to plant. Twenty (one-tenth of an acre) to 145 trees (three-fourths of an acre) will be planted and equipped with deer protection by County-selected contractors. Property owners will be responsible for maintaining the trees and reporting their survival to EPS.

Complete and submit the Backyard Trees Program application (PDF) either via email to or by mail to:

Attention: Forest Management
111 West Chesapeake Avenue, Room 319
Towson, Maryland 21204

Urban Tree Canopy Expansion—Managed Grounds and Communities

A landscape tree.
An example of a landscape tree.

The Urban Tree Canopy Expansion Program is for managed grounds and urban communities (street trees) where reforestations are not appropriate.

Trees are planted and maintained for one year by County-selected contractors. Each project must include 15 trees or more and EPS only plants canopy trees under this program. For community-wide projects, EPS works closely with a community representative on outreach.

Landscape Trees

This program includes landscape style trees spaced approximately 30 feet apart. Landscape style trees are 1.5 to two-inch in diameter at breast height and are typically taller than five feet. The tree comes equipped with stakes, a mower guard, bark protector and mulch. The maintenance of the grass beneath the tree remains the same. Learn more about landscape style plantings (PDF).

About the Programs' Native Tree Species

Native tree species are carefully selected by EPS for factors such as ecosystem functions, mature size, native range, safety and aesthetics. EPS provides a Forest Management Species list of trees (PDF) used in its reforestations and urban tree plantings. EPS will work with landowners to ensure suggestions are incorporated in final planting plans where possible so long as those species can meet the selection criteria. EPS does not plant evergreens, or provide landscaping or privacy screening trees.

Revised May 3, 2022         


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